The Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball team rolled into Louisville on Saturday for a noon tip-off against the No. 1 team in the nation and came up short by a final of 99-67.
It was a homecoming for guard Jacquess Hobbs as he grew up a fan of the Cardinals and attended Waggener High School in Louisville.
In 24 minutes of action, Hobbs scored nine points and recorded three steals and two assists for EKU.
“As a kid I’ve always dreamed about playing for Louisville or playing against Louisville, so today it was really a dream come true so I’m just happy to have this experience,” Hobbs said.
Head coach A.W. Hamilton knew it would be a monumental test to defeat the No. 1 team in the nation.
“I understand why they are the No. 1 team in the country,” Hamilton said. “They have a great team, a veteran team and they came in and were hungry today coming off of a loss. I thought that they responded and had a great game.”
EKU was led by Ty Taylor with a team-high 13 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Tre King chipped in 12 points, collected five rebounds and one steal.
“We got better as a team as far as offensive rebounding,” Hobbs said.
EKU out rebounded Louisville on the offensive boards, 16-12.
The Cardinals were led by the ACC Preseason Player of the Year, Jordan Nwora. Nwora finished the afternoon with a team-high 26 points. He also added seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“He’s a superstar… I think he is living up to it,” Hamilton said about Nwora receiving ACC Preseason Player of the Year. “He’s pretty impressive on both [film and in person].”
Steven Enoch contributed to the Cardinal scoring with 23 points. Enoch collected seven rebounds, one assist, one block and one steal in the victory for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals shot 63 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from beyond the arc.
“It's great for us to have the opportunity to play Louisville and to play on the ACC Network and people from around the state could watch us play today,” Hamilton said.
Playing in front of 16,185 fans on Saturday gave EKU and its players a chance to learn and improve before Ohio Valley Conference play starts in January.
“All of these games are helping us get ready for the OVC,” Hamilton said. “The OVC is a great league, a tough league so we’ve played a challenging schedule and I hope it pays off when we get into league play.”
This is the second top-10 team EKU has faced this season.
“The thing I loved about us tonight is when we faced adversity we kept fighting,” Hamilton said. When we faced adversity against Kentucky we kinda laid down a little bit. We played for 40 minutes and we fought and I was proud of our guys for that.”
EKU falls to 3-7 on the season and Louisville moves to 10-1. This was EKU’s fifth straight loss after starting the season 3-2.
The Colonels will travel to Marshall on Thursday, Dec. 19. Tip-off in Huntington, W.V. is set for 7 p.m.
Hamilton is excited for the matchup with Marshall since the fall semester and finals are completed and the team will have more time to improve in the gym.
“It’s going to be a great trip,” Hamilton said. “Now we can get into more practice time, more weight lifting time and invest a little more in basketball so this will be a great week of practice and a great opportunity to play Marshall.”
EKU returns home to McBrayer Arena on Dec. 21 to face Charleston Southern.